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Archaeologies of Hope: Indigenous Heritage, Hybrid Knowledge, and Common Futures in the Brazilian Amazon

photo of the speaker (a white man with beard and glasses) and a photo of an Indigenous man using a drone in a red dirt area
Thursday, April 11, 2024
3:00 am - 5:00 am
Michael Heckenberger

Michael Heckenberger

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida

Thursday, April 11, 3:00pm - 5:00 pm

Smith Warehouse, Bay 5, Amazon Lab

Followed by a catered reception


Low-density urbanism, or garden cities, have been proposed for several areas of the ancient Amazon, which refute entrenched images of pristine nature and primitive tribes frozen in time. A new paradigm is emerging that suggest an Amazonian past peopled by large, regionally organized human communities no less technologically innovative or transformative of nature, as other small- to medium sized preindustrial urban polities globally, particularly across the Global South's tropical forests. In this presentation, the Upper Xingu basin, Mato Grosso, Brazil, is described, including cultural heritage studies and archaeology conducted over the past three decades in collaboration with the Kuikuro Indigenous nation within the Território Indígena do Xingu (TIX).

Interdisciplinary and intercultural collaborative research is discussed in term of changing research designs and implementation, including ongoing real-time consultation, locally administrated consent, participatory mechanisms, as well as "bottom up" or community-based approaches to deep Amazonian history. Archaeology, in this sense or mode, is a pedagogy of hope, revealing viable novelty, as reflected in the archaeological past, as imagined by diverse participants, and providing alternatives for better common futures. The common aim is to develop mutually intelligible and dialogic participatory methods to promote coproduction of knowledge and novel research directions and synergies, and locally actionable information, which focus on common pragmatic issues, such as staving off forest decline and die-off, wildfires, pollution of rivers and streams, pandemics, other chronic public feature issues, and the existential crisis for people and biodiversity in the modern era of an Amazonian tipping event.

Contact: Eli Meyerhoff